We pull into a Flying J truck stop in Beach, ND, for the night. (Great
name isn't it?) The lot is nearly empty, so we commandeer an aisle of
parking slots as our own, set the brakes and begin to relax. It's very
Then I hear something over a loudspeaker about the lights going out at
midnight. Is that really what I heard?
I stroll inside the little store because, well, there's not much to do
at a truck stop late at night unless you stroll into the store. And, I
wanted some jelly beans. And I wanted to find out about the lights.
I see signs posted on windows and doors about lights going out at
midnight for seven hours, while the local electric company performs
annual maintenance. Everything electrical is going down at midnight,
which means no gas pumps, no cash register, no lights, so no shopping.
Everything goes dark at midnight.
Cool. This happens once a year and it's happening on the night we pick
to stay overnight in Beach. I wonder what it'll all look like.
The Flying J is in the middle of farmland; the only lights to go dark
are at the truck stop.
So I quick buy my jelly beans (it's nearly midnight), head back to the
motor home and wait. Four minutes to go. I stare out the window.
It's midnight. Nothing happens. I stare. It's two, four, eight minutes
after. Nothing. I'm sad. I want to see what it looks like when the
lights go out. (Silly, silly, silly. It's like wondering what you look
like with your eyes closed, so you go stand in front of a mirror and
close your eyes.)
I soon stop staring out into the lighted world and play a computer
game. At some point, I realize the lights outside are gone. It's dark.
I missed therm going out
Of course, I see nothing.
We climb into bed. I reach up to draw the shades and stop. I'm wowed
by what I see, by what makes the whole evening memorable.
Without man's lights, I can see God's blanket of stars as I've never
seen it before. Huge. Thick with multi-layers of pinpoints of lights.
A gazillion million trillion stars.
Gloriously, the sky twinkles, shimmers, undulates.
I fall sleep. Totally entertained.